View Full Version : Thoughts on Pathfinder/3.5 Economy and Warfare

2011-11-04, 03:43 PM
I've been DM'ing a Pathfinder game and have recently given my PC's a fief to manage (a gift from a grateful duke) and intend to introduce concepts like managing economy and warfare into the campaign. My first thought was a model similar to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but am not sure how to keep that simple and mostly in the background (mainly as a means to support their army.)

Now, it's easy enough to stat out infantry, archers, light horse, etc, on an individual basis, but I can't find any consistent rules for handling warfare and large scale conflicts for 3.5 or Pathfinder. I don't count Heroes of Battle because I don't like how those rule work.

But are there any resources I could be pointed to that will help me figure out a way to decide on economy (like trade, agriculture, military upkeep, etc) and large scale battles (with regiments of troops).

Thanks, and cheers. :smallsmile:

2011-11-06, 12:55 PM
Unless you want to go into full-on wargaming, I think the easiest method is the cinematic approach. An example of such:


Cinematic Conflicts

Cinematic conflicts are very easy to run, because they take place essentially like normal adventuring sessions, with the players acting only for themselves. This works best when the players themselves are not in charge of the force, as dealing with their strategy on the fly would make things nearly impossible on all but the best improvisational Game Masters. Besides, generals rarely do the important actions in a battle… they order them.

To run a battle in cinematic style, a Game Master divides the battle into several scenes. In each scene, the players must accomplish a certain goal. Failure to accomplish that goal will lead to one scene, success to another, while a partial success might lead to yet another. Eventually, the battle is won or lost based on the actions of the characters.

Of course, these battles require several things from the Game Master. First of all, the Game Master needs a good plan of how likely it is that the player's army can actually win. After all, if they are facing 600 orcish raiders with a militia made up of 20 gnomes, their first failure will likely be their last, and any successes are going to be amazingly difficult. Secondly, they need to determine several scenes, covering a wide range of possibilities, or be able to improvise them quickly. Perhaps most importantly, they require a lot of stock characters, as any battle is going to result in a lot of dead on either side, possibly with many of them being killed by player characters.

As an example, let us look at the Battle of Gersidi Pass. This is a historic battle, in which the forces under Anton Gersidi denied this strategic pass to a massive army of humanoids sweeping down out of the Old Kingdom. The players are on the side of Anton Gersidi. They are sorely outnumbered, but the narrowness of the pass keeps the humanoids from attacking all at once, lightening their burden, somewhat. However, the Gersidi forces have no magic-users unless one of the players is one… these were simply garrison troops, not expecting combat.

Before the first scene ever happens, the Game Master decides that Anton Gersidi has planned to fall back to a certain bridge, collapse that bridge, then hold the humanoids from building a new one. Due to the numbers of the enemy, more than one failed scene will result in the annihilation of the Gersidi forces. Since the players are rear guard, the GM decides on the following order of scenes:

Scene 1: The players must fight several humanoids for at least 10 rounds, so the rest of the army can make it to the bridge, and not forget to retreat some themselves. If more than 5 of these humanoids make it through their line to the rest of the army, they have failed, and the Game Master takes them to scene 1a. If they manage to hold them off, he goes to scene 2.

1a) The players must now fight the same opponents, but twice as many of them, and the players themselves are surrounded. Failure is either death or failing to kill all of their opponents in 10 more rounds. If they succeed, they go to scene 2. If they fail (and survive) they are captured, and the army of humanoids pours out onto the plains of Timiro.

Scene 2: However the players got here, they now have to deny the bridge to the humanoids. The bridge is made of wood with metal fittings, and is 100 feet long by 15 feet wide (enough for one wagon to cross), and so requires 3 warriors to block it. Their job is to protect the 4 engineers working to collapse the bridge, who will be fired on by archers (10 of them), and stop the humanoids from crossing to their side. If any engineer is hit more than twice, he will die of his wounds. If more than two engineers are killed, the bridge must be collapsed some other way. It will take 5 rounds for them to finish the bridge, and they are -5 to dodge. The problem is, the winds are blowing towards the characters. This means that any fog or cloud spells will be blown back on the engineers, making their jobs impossible (if not putting them to sleep), and the range of missiles is cut in half. In addition, since the bridge is going to fall, the characters are likely going to be reluctant to engage the armies in melee (which would leave them trapped on the other side). If the characters fail, move them to scene 2a. If they succeed, move them on to scene 3.

2a) In this scene, the players must both hold off the monsters at the head of the bridge while simultaneously finding some way to destroy it. There are three supports (weighing 200 pounds each) on the character's side that would need to be destroyed for the bridge to collapse, unless one of the players has a better idea. Failure happens when more than 5 humanoids break through the player's line, or everyone is dead. If the humanoids break through, the characters will be overwhelmed, captured, and ransomed (or cooked). If they succeed, then they move to Scene 3.

Scene 3: This scene will likely blend into the background of the game. The Game Master determines that the humanoids will make try to cross that the players will be able to stop (they will make several more, but all off-stage, stopped by NPCs).

In the first, the players will have to find and destroy a rope that will allow the humanoids to cross. If the players miss two perception checks (one at difficulty 20 to notice that one of many arrows is trailing a line, the second at 15- 10 if they have nightvision of at least 50 feet- to notice someone crossing hand-over-hand), they will be faced with an increasing number of humanoids on their side… a new one every 3 rounds until they cut the rope. Success happens when they cut the rope. Failure happens when the PCs are outnumbered by humanoids, and results in the loss of the battle. If the players succeed, the humanoids will be held to the other side of the pass, and the battle is one.

As you can see, this plays much like a normal game. The players have goals to achieve, and do so using their own characters. A Game Master using this system needs to be fairly inventive, as a clever player can come up with all sorts of way to make this battle quiet easy, especially with magic (though the conflict is somewhat stacked against Air Warlocks), and a low-level Earth Warlock with the right spells could stop this combat quickly. The cinematic method is perhaps the easiest method to use with low-level characters, as they will rarely be leading the force and will face more danger with these sorts of combats than a higher-level party.